ROURKELA: Eyeing the three-tier panchayat elections, the ruling BJD and Opposition Congress in Sundargarh district are leaving no stone unturned to reassert their base.
Political observers said while the BJD looks poised to retain the Sundargarh Zilla Parishad (ZP) council, preparations of the local BJP leaders and workers led by Union Tribal Affairs Minister and Sundargarh BJP Parliamentarian Jual Oram are anything but ‘sincere’.
Rural elections are scheduled in February 2017 and the BJD has already started wooing voters with a series of events including the month-long padyatra that concluded last week.
The BJD at the moment enjoys advantage over the BJP. BJD leaders in the district including Rajya Sabha member and hockey icon Dilip Tirkey, former ministers Sarada Prasad Nayak and Subrat Tarai, Rajgangpur MLA Mangla Kishan and Sundargarh ZP president Petrus Toppo with help of Sports and Youth Services Minister Sudam Marandi, Cuttack-Chowdwar MLA Pravat Biswal and Odisha Building & Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board Chairman Subash Singh continue to strengthen BJD’s poll preparations.
Political observers said after the Modi Government came to power and Jual became Central cabinet Minister in 2014, a sense of complacency has gripped the local BJP leaders and workers. Again, barring Rourkela Assembly constituency led by heavyweight Rourkela BJP legislator Dilip Ray, the party does not have second line of leaders in remaining six Assembly constituencies.
The BJD in 2012 had formed the 35-member Sundargarh ZP council with 20 seats, but the BJP failed to open account. Now, Jual is under pressure to reverse the outcome of the upcoming ZP poll in BJP’s favour.
Rourkela Development Authority Chairman and former BJD Minister Sarada Prasad Nayak said his party is well-poised to win the rural elections riding on good works of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and strong organisational grip. He claimed that the Bhuiyan community is also against Jual.
However, BJP’s Odisha unit secretary Dhiren Senapati insisted that the BJP has strong organisational structure. He claimed that through various party programmes, the BJP is creating awareness among voters highlighting 70 public welfare schemes of the Centre and all round failure of the BJD Government in the State.